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Fool's Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,001 ratings  ·  169 reviews
In our post-Christian context, public life has become markedly more secular while private life infinitely more diverse. Yet many Christians still rely on cookie-cutter approaches to evangelism and apologetics. Most of these methods assume that people are open, interested and needy for spiritual insight when increasingly most people are not. Our urgent need, then, is the ca ...more
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published July 4th 2015 by IVP Books
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Rick Chap. 4 begins by listing the three kinds of fools in Scripture, then he focuses on the third "fool," or the "fool maker," who " not a fool...but…moreChap. 4 begins by listing the three kinds of fools in Scripture, then he focuses on the third "fool," or the "fool maker," who " not a fool...but who is willing to be seen and treated as a fool, so that from the position of derided folly, he or she may be able the jester, addressing truth to power..." The fool maker is the one who shows the unbeliever the folly of their unbelief.
Chap. 5 is as it is titled, a study in the nature or "anatomy" of unbelief. Unless we have a true appreciation for that anatomy, our efforts at persuasion of the unbeliever will fall short. He describes four characteristic abuses that unbelief works on the truth.
Chap. 6, "Turning the Tables" explores the first of two ways of responding to the anatomy of unbelief described in chap. 5. The first way is negative, the second (in chap. 7) is positive. In this chap. he describes how the would-be Christian persuader can "turn the tables" on the unbeliever, leading them to confront the implications of what they do believe.

This is an oversimplification, but I hope it's helpful. In all chapters he draws from numerous biblical examples, as well as the writings of many others, both believers and non-believers. The book is tremendous for those who wish to be more effective in ministering to those who are not particularly open to the Christian faith. (less)

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Mentioned positively here: We cannot treat our unbelieving neighbors as people with clear-cut "worldviews" that require prefabricated answers from a worldview camp or textbook. ...more
Peter Jones
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books on Christian persuasion I have read. Guinness is very smart, interacting with all sorts of books and men. But he is also clear and well organized. He is not trying to overwhelm you with his scholarship, which makes this book accessible to almost anyone.

One point that stuck with me is that people don't want to hear us. I often enter a situation with a non-believer and even liberal Christians assuming that they care, that I already have their ear. But I don't. People need to
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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Os begins by setting out two propositions: first, we are in “the grand age of apologetics” (16) and second, “We have lost the art of Christian persuasion and we must recover it”(17 italics original). His game plan? Bringing together the art of apologetic and evangelism. Divorce the two and you get Christians only concerned with winning arguments and not people or just concerned with ABC repeat-after-me tactics. When the two are combined, you have arguments that take other’s be
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Summary: Guinness argues for the recovery of the lost art of persuasion that combines good apologetic work with evangelism and is aware of the many people Christians address who are not open to their message.

This is a book that Os Guinness has been preparing for a lifetime to write. Throughout his life, Guinness has been presenting the Christian faith in the public square, not only with the interested but also those who are not, those who would oppose or are disinterested in the Christian messag
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like so many other writers that I've read before, I have to say that I cannot believe I am just now discovering the writing of Os Guiness -- this even after having earned a graduate degree in Christian apologetics.

This is a well-done and engaging attempt at proposing a comprehensive and cohesive apologetic that draws on philosophy, literature, art, and the task of communicating the core gospel message.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding. This is probably the best book on apologetics I have read.
David Bruyn
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very unusual and extremely perceptive work on apologetics and evangelism, and the need to adapt and synthesise approaches.
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After seeing Dr. Guinness be interviewed on this book, I put it on my reading list. I am so glad I did. This is the best book that I have read on how to 'do' apologetics. One of the things that I respect the most about Dr. Guinness is how he promised the Lord in his early twenties that he would not write a book on how to do apologetics until he had done apologetics for many years. True to his promise, I believe the Lord blessed him in his ministry because of that. His pattern of using this fivef ...more
David Huff
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-book
I have long enjoyed reading Os Guinness, and found "Fool's Talk" to be both a clever title and a very helpful apologetics resource. One caveat: as Guinness himself warns early on, don't expect this book to be a "how-to" primer for either apologetics or evangelism. "Fool's Talk" is, instead, a rich seminar on persuasion rather than just preaching, enriched from 50+ years of experience on the author's part, as well as numerous quotes and ideas from Christian thinkers and apologists across the cent ...more
Adam Robinson
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is my first Guinness book but it won't be my last. Guinness is making the argument that in order to communicate to a very changing culture our forms of apologetics must change. Not the content, mind you, and the author goes to great lengths to defend that. Instead he makes the seemingly obvious point that the postmodern culture we are living in doesn't respond well to straightforward argument (he details why) and then offers some insightful ideas on how to actually reach skeptics in our cul ...more
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Picked this up for a men's study which I ended up attending sporadically. Nevertheless, the chapters I did read were articulate and convicting. (The one on "turning the tables" is particularly good.) I plan to revisit the book more thoroughly in future. ...more
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I think this was promoted as the "magnum opus" of Os Guinness, and I'd say that I can see why. I already want to read it again. A compelling read. ...more
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The idea that Christians today have lost the art of Christian persuasion is not easy to read but it was very convicting and enlightening. Guinness addresses some of the issues I've wrestled with--answering hypocrisy, how do we even try to convince people who don't want to hear? (He never gives a short, straightforward answer). And doesn't rhetoric get in the way?--Paul said he didn't use flowery speech. Shouldn't we just trust the Holy Spirit and say whatever?
The writing isn't quick and easy tho
Michael Philliber
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Slick spin and polished patois throb and thud their way through every aspect of American society. Whether it’s left or right, liberal or conservative, revisionist or traditionalist, each group has its own particular guild-talk and encoded lingo that fulfills and fortifies their respective self-perceptions. On top of this, much of our communication has become self-serving and self-absorbed, as we post and present and publish our blogs, statuses, thoughts and tweets. As all of this self-important ...more
Daniel Nelms
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fantastic book. After 40 years of apologetics, Os Guinness finally writes his first book on apologetics. This is one of his life’s works, and it is great. He offers a balanced approach to engaging the modern culture that is at times brutally honest, very insightful and also creative. This will really help the modern Christian to begin understanding the various frameworks that lie in our 21st century Western world and how to begin laying foundations for engagement.

One of my big take aways is that
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very helpful (in places). The core concepts here are very important for understanding how Christians can communicate with people who are either indifferent or hostile to Christianity. There are useful discussions on the effects of sin on our thinking, the image of God, the logical outworkings of unbelief, and universal appetite for the transcendent. (However, he is a bit wordy - not overly complicated, just long-winded and even redundant at points. Every chapter could have been 2/3 as long, and ...more
Rafael Salazar
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: apologetics
A breathtaking work on the motives and methods of apologetics. Guinness seeks to unite the best of pressupositional and evidential approaches by calling for discretion and wisdom in their application in the process of Christian persuasion (an umbrella-term that covers apologetics and evangelism). Some chapters uniquely brim with insights, but the work is a holistic fresh contribution to the thinking of apologetics, of which the source, means, and end is love. Highly recommended. Guinness' writin ...more
James Pate
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
How can Christians persuade people to accept their faith, when there are many today who are hostile or indifferent towards Christianity? Os Guinness addresses this question in Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion.

The book is not really a how-to manual on witnessing. Guinness talks, for example, about the importance of asking questions, as Jesus (and even the serpent in the Garden of Eden) asked questions that influenced people’s thought processes. But I cannot recall any speci
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thought-provoking, reorienting, and humbling. In one fell swoop Guinness makes you want to go carry Jesus’ name to everyone you know, but also love God and them enough to trust God and suspect yourself. And, as a cherry on top, it was readable but jam packed with insight; dense like a flourless cake.
Aaron Smith
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic read. As an undergraduate studying Philosophy at an increasingly secular university I found this book extremely helpful. I was both informed and deeply moved by the contents of the book. At times the social analysis was so true it was almost disturbing, yet encouraging to the soul.
Rex Blackburn
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a slow-starter for me. Once I hit chapter 5, it really picked up! (Chapter 5 is a great chapter!) A lot of helpful nuggets in this book, I'm glad I read it. ...more
Philip Brown
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal. I shall certainly return.
Megan Lang
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really liked this one, probably one of my favorite Rhetoric books all year.
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
We live in a time in which our culture vacillates between the material world and the spiritual-but-not-religious. Everywhere you look there is either New Atheism or New Age spirituality, evidentialist scientific rationalism or postmodern relativism. Os Guinness points out that the time is ripe for apologetic engagement but first we must recapture the lost art of Christian persuasion (16-17). In Fool's Talk he gives an account of where we are at this cultural moment and what it would look like fo ...more
Hank Pharis
Dec 12, 2020 rated it liked it
(NOTE: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book or a B. 3 stars means a very good book or a B+. 4 stars means an outstanding book or an A {only about 5% of the books I read merit 4 stars}. 5 stars means an all time favorite or an A+ {Only one of 400 or 500 books rates this!).;

Many important points here:

everyone is now in the business of relentless self-promotion—presenting themselves, explaining themselves, defending themselves, selling themselves or sharing their inner thoughts a
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I can remember reading on the topic of Christian witness. Deeply wise, even-handed, and very well-read. Worth the price of admission just for the quotes and endnotes alone.

Sadly, many Christian books could and should have been booklets. Alas, publishing and market forces distort these kinds of things and we end up with books that have one or two good points and a lot of fluff to fill the rest of the chapters.

This is decidedly different. I took my time and worked through i
Sara Jones
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book took me a long time to read because I wanted to absorb the words slowly and the reading is dense. However, it was well worth the investment of time. Guinness takes a look at Christian apologetics, its history, what it is today, what it should be. I love his approach that sharing the Christian faith is much more about walking with someone on their journey, and far less about having perfect Christian theology and an answer to every question. At the end of the day, God is His own best def ...more
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: apologetics
What makes this book stand out among apologetic literature is first the author, Os Guinness, one of the shining lights of evangelical apologetics, whose characteristic warmth, humility, and incisiveness I have deeply admired (just listen to a Veritas Forum talk of his). The fact that Os waited 50 years to write this book so to ensure he would be writing from half a century of experience and not simply theory is another remarkable example of his humility, and not only that, his Christian maturity ...more
Patrick S.
May 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: own
I've heard Guinness speak. I've heard him debate. I've read some articles he's published. I know that he is an intelligent man, a skilled debater, and scholar. This was my first book by him and this was to be his magnum opus. And I'm greatly underwhelmed. I read this with another person who is far smarter and better trained in philosophy than I am and met to discuss each chapter. He too did not enjoy this book.

This was not really a book on the framework of Christian persuasion because he doesn't
Brandon H.
This book is brilliant!

"Fool's Talk" was full of so many profound insights about persuasion, the human heart, this postmodern era, God, apologetics, etc. I don't know where to start. I'll settle with one thought the author made that struck a resounding cord with me - apologetics is an act of love; an act of defending God's name. We defend God's name because we love Him. Yes, we want to win arguments that unravel the lies that keep people from knowing truth. We want to see others come to Him and
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Os Guinness (D.Phil., Oxford) is the author or editor of more than twenty-five books, including The American Hour, Time for Truth and The Case for Civility. A frequent speaker and prominent social critic, he was the founder of the Trinity Forum and has been a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and a guest scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies. He lives near Washi ...more

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“The age of the Internet, it is said, is the age of the self and the selfie. The world is full of people full of themselves. In such an age, “I post, therefore I am.” 7 likes
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